Blaming and flaming
Job 1:22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.
1 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.
2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?
4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you cannot see past the log in your own eye?
5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Recalling the Genesis story of the sin of Adam and Eve, a church sign quipped, “Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, and the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on.”
Apparently, Adam and Eve invented blame shifting. It is in our DNA to blame others for our mistakes and errors. It is so normal for us not to look within and examine our own faults and blunders and accept responsibility.
To blame or not to blame, what is a good working definition? To blame means to criticize, condemn, denounce, reprimand, accuse, charge, or to lay at one’s door.
Many would think that the contrast to blaming others is to vindicate or praise them. But this misses the mark. If we choose not to blame others, we make ourselves accountable in their place. That is, we take responsibility for what has happened. In common vernacular, we “man up” or perhaps “woman up.”
Who usually gets blamed? Not necessarily in order of significance, upon reflection we might say: the devil, God, our parents, those that are closest to us, our wives, our husbands, our children, the all-encompassing “they,” or perhaps an imaginary phantom, a.k.a., the bogeyman, and even the dog.
When we refuse to blame God, or the devil or others for our problems we begin a journey of right-thinking and right living. Along the way we learn to take personal responsibility for our actions. We own up to what we think, what we say, and what we do. We need to change our way of thinking. We need to repent. We need to practice seeking the Father’s help to deal successfully with the “logs” in our own eyes. In doing so, we can break the cycle handed down to us by Adam and Eve and get it right.
Having lived our whole lives one way, it is not easy to change. But it is best for us and proves to be a healing balm for our damaged hearts and souls.
REFLECT & PRAY
Early in life I was given the gift of a strong moral compass by my mother. If I were playing with a bunch of kids, and someone threw a rock and broke a window, the other kids would run away. But I would stand my ground. Later in life, things became much more complicated. The new norm was to evade and deflect personal responsibility.
Father I know it is wrong to blame others, particularly You and those I love the most when I am at fault. Encourage me to reflect upon my actions and attitudes, take responsibility, do what is right, and make amends where appropriate.
If anyone in the Scriptures “had a right to complain,” it might have been Job. He deserved none of the horrific things that happened to him, his family, and possessions. But Job had the personal spiritual maturity and integrity not to complain and whine. His response was superb.
Job 1:21 “The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!”
He refused to blame the Father for his troubles.
Job 1:22 In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with moral impropriety.
Going a bit deeper, what exactly did Job not do?
The Hebrew word translated blame, wrongdoing, unseemliness, folly, insipid, empty, or impropriety is tiflah. It occurs in Jeremiah 23:13 with the meaning of “unseemly” or “unsavory.” The plain sense of the last clause of Job 1:22 is clear. However, is a bit difficult to translate. It has been rendered blame God (NAS), charge God with wrong (ESV), charge God with moral impropriety (NET), or charge God foolishly (KJV).
In Job 1:22, tiflah has the sense that Job did not accuse the Father of doing something that was unworthy. Job did not claim that the Father had done something foolish (UBS).
Job refused to accuse God of doing anything remiss or out of character. Indeed, the Father had done nothing wrong. The same is often true of people we blame. It is wise to consider their character and track record, before we assume the worse and lash out.
Regrettably, it is easier to accuse, than excuse.
Often blaming others has more to do with projection of our own faults rather than an accurate assessment of their flaws. Perhaps it would be wise to ask yourself if your criticism is based on fact? It may well be in mere conjecture conjured up by our own woundedness?
Every time we point a blaming finger at others, there are three fingers pointing back at us. “Stop pointing fingers and placing blame on others. Your life can only change to the degree that you accept responsibility for it” (Steve Maraboli).
We have the freedom and responsibility not to react to criticism with anger and self-protection. Having been given a new life by the Father, we are no longer totally bound by our earthly DNA. We can honor the Father and His righteous standards. We are required to represent and depend upon Him in every situation. When we respond as He directs, a remarkable thing often happens. We create curiosity in others regarding the source of our calm strength and perseverance.
Nowhere in the Scriptures are we encouraged to blame others. Rather we should become spiritual lumberjacks and go to work on the logs in our own eyes, rather than the specks in the eyes of others.
What does Jesus mean when He says, “you cannot see past the log in your own eye” (Matthew 7:4)?
There is little doubt, that a 5-year-old would get this right before most adults. If you have a log in your eye, you are practically speaking, blind. In fact, because you do not see your own faults accurately, how can you properly discern those of someone else? How can we help somebody else with their faults, we do not seem to be able to help ourselves?
“It is hypocritical to suppose that we could help someone with a fault when we ourselves have a greater fault. We must remedy our own faults before criticizing them in others” (MacDonald).